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What Core Strength Actually Means – Alexandria, VA Chiropractor

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What Core Strength Actually Means – Alexandria, VA Chiropractor

Core strength and fitness is integral to the strength, flexibility, and ability to function in gravity for all human beings. Proper breathing, posture, pelvic function, and digestion (to name a few) are all dependent on a healthy core.  But what exactly is the core?  Where does it start and end?  If you are like myself and like most people, you have been beat over the head with three incorrect ideas:  1. your core is your abdominal muscles  2. the way to measure its’ fitness is the presence or absence of a six-pack 3. the way to make it stronger is to do sit-ups.  Sports coaches, school fitness tests, and magazines have been repeating this message for the past 30 years and it is time to put a stop to it.  Let’s get the story straight.

First we need to understand what the core actually is.  It is true your abdominal muscles are part of your core.  First of all, what most people refer to as the abdominals is only the rectus abdominis which which are the “six pack” muscles.  There are three other much larger and powerful abdominal muscles called external oblique, internal oblique, and transverse abdominis.  The other important take-home point is that all of the abdominal muscles combined are only part of your core.  Your pelvic floor, diaphragm, multifidis and many other powerful muscles deep within the body function together to form what is known as the core.  Next time you hear someone talk about core strength, make sure you are clear in your head about how you are defining that for yourself.

Next we need to understand what the core actually does.  Again, many of us have been taught that having a six pack is a recognizable sign of good core strength.  Let’s not confuse aesthetics with function.  The sit-up motion or flexion of the abs is actually not what your core is designed to do at all, and is not considered to be a functional movement for the human body.  The primary functions for the core are to stabilize motion and and transfer force – not to initiate movement itself.  Being able to control the force that your body produces is the true hallmark of core strength.

Last we need to understand how to improve or work on our core.  Entire books and fields of study have been dedicated to this topic so I will simply indulge by introducing the basic principles.  Good core work involves stabilizing in all three dimensions and supports its key functions of stabilizing and transferring force.   Think active whole body movements such as a squat rather than static exercise such as a laying down and doing a sit-up.  Introducing things like asymmetrical weight, rotation, and other variables trains your core in the way it was meant to behave.

Core fitness is a pillar of function and health in the human body.  Make sure you not only understand what your core is, but please also appreciate its importance and the benefit understanding it can have for you.




Jake Dodds
Jake Dodds
Dr. Jake is an upper cervical chiropractor in Alexandria, VA. His burning desire is to bring more health into the world, particularly as it relates to men in the family setting. He enjoys guitar, soccer, Calvin and Hobbes, and hanging out with his family.
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